Research in Arts and Sciences


Andrew Dawes


Andrew Dawes - Website

Assistant Professor, Physics

Andrew is committed to the idea that active learning environments and innovative teaching pedagogy are fundamental to effective science education. In addition to his teaching efforts, he is currently constructing a research lab that will involve undergraduate students in summer and senior-capstone research projects. He is interested in several fields of physics including: atom cooling and trapping, pattern-forming nonlinear optics, slow- and fast-light, and the application of optical systems to quantum and classical information science.


Heide Island


Heide Island - Website

Associate Professor, Psychology

Heide’s research is broad-based. Her studies have largely focused on comparative self control—what environmental factors influence impulsive behavior both among human and nonhuman animals: time, daily energy, resources, etc. “I am interested in risk-sensitivity and how that might change from a risk-averse responder to a risk-prone responder depending upon the environmental triggers like resource dearth, caloric loss, or depressed energy level,” she says.

Currently, she is working with three other collaborators on “the implementation of a psychometric instrument inspired by what we know about our neurochemistry, the goal is to accurately match people who are looking for long-term romantic relationships.”

Island also has prospects in writing a non-academic book on the institutions in place, both economic and cultural, that shape a couple's decision to become parents. “Specifically,” she states, “I am interested in the life satisfaction, economic health, and familial relationships among dual-income couples (both traditional and nontraditional) who choose not to have children and how we as a culture treat these couples.”

James Butler


James Butler - Website

Associate Professor, Physics

Dr. Butler began his research as an undergrad, focusing on nonlinear chaotic systems. In graduate school he researched experimental, nonlinear optics and experimental diffractive optics. Currently, Butler has been investigating nonlinear absorption in capillary waveguides, which has applications in places where there is a potential for damage due to high-intensity lasers—to protect a soldier's eyes from lasers, for example. “It's a great project to work with students on,” Butler says. “It has practical and important scientific applications, so their part of the project can mean something to the greater community.” Butler goes on to say how much he's learned while working with students at Pacific: “I'm as much a student as I am a teacher,” he says.



James Butler


Shereen Khoja - Website

Associate Professor, Computer Science.

My primary area of research is Arabic Computational Linguistics. Specifically:

Stemming: Details about the stemmer I have developed for Arabic.
Tagging: Details about the Part-Of-Speech (POS) tagger I am developing for Arabic.
Corpora: Details about the Arabic corpora I am using. I have manually tagged 50,000 words of Arabic newspaper text with the basic tags (noun, verb, particle). I have also tagged 1,700 words with more detailed tags (i.e. singular, masculine, definite common noun). These are available for research purposes. Please e-mail me if you would like a copy of them.



Cheleen Mahar


Cheleen Mahar - Website

Professor of Anthropology.


One important reason I chose anthropology is the disciplinary methodology that is implicated in its practice. In our field the key research tool is participant observation. What this means is that we explore the lived experience of our informants, doing long-term research, living in the field, and then, leaving the field, we write ethnographies about that experience. Such information is critical when applied to health care delivery, public health issues, issues of economic equality, marketing products that are useful to consumers, and government policies, both domestic and international. Being a social anthropologist has allowed me to travel the world, and to be touched and humbled by the people I have had the good fortune to meet and live beside. If this sort of experience is attractive to you, please join us in anthropology.


David DeMoss


Jaye Cee Whitehead - Website

Assistant Professor of Sociology

My love for sociology began right here at Pacific University. The sociological imagination satisfied my curiosity about the social world at the same time that it ignited my passion for understanding power and inequality. I didn’t come to Pacific knowing that I wanted to be a sociology major, let alone a sociologist. Frankly, I took my first sociology course by accident and soon discovered that it motivated me to actually get out of bed and go to class. In my sociology courses we discussed everything from the mundane activities of everyday life, to grand questions about the economy, politics, culture, gender, race, and religion. My early love for sociology never disappeared. As a professor of sociology at Pacific, I enjoy the unique opportunity to contribute to the department that ignited my initial desires to understand and change the social world.



David DeMoss


David DeMoss - Website

Professor of Philosophy.

Currently I am preparing for my sabbatical (May 2010-Jan 2011).  My project entitled “The Empty and Extended Self” will explore the ideas of Buddhism in the light of contemporary cognitive science and philosophy. More specifically, I will interpret certain key concepts from Buddhism using the “spread out” or “extended” model of the self adapted from the work of Daniel Dennett and Andy Clark. The Buddhist concepts I plan to investigate are: emptiness (and the related notion of no-self, anatman), suffering (sometimes translated as “anguish,” dukhha), craving, compassion, and social engagement.  I plan to show how these Buddhist concepts should be understood if we assume, along with Andy Clark, that human beings are “thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological and nonbiological circuitry” (Clark, Natural-Born Cyborgs, 2003, p.3).







David Boersema


David Boersema - Website

Professor of Philosophy



General Editor, Essays in Philosophy



Pragmatism and Reference, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2009
Philosophy of Science, New York: Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2008
Spiritual and Political Dimensions of Nonviolence and Peace, co-editor with Katy Gray Brown, New York: Rodopi, 2006

“Aristotle” forthcoming in World History Encyclopedia. Ed. Kevin McGeough, ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2009
“Socrates” forthcoming in World History Encyclopedia. Ed. Kevin McGeough, ABC-CLIO Publishers, 2009
“Middle East and North America” In The Nineties in America. Ed. Milton Berman. Pasadena: Salem Press, 2009. Pages 568-571
“What’s Wrong with Victims’ Rights?” forthcoming in Remembrance and Reconciliation. Eds. Dennis Rothermel and Ron Hirschbein. Rodopi Publishers, 2009
“Geach on Proper Names” In The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy: Volume 6, Epistemology. Eds. Stephen Voss and Dermot Moran. Ankara: Philosophical Society of Turkey, 2008. Pages 37-42
“Ramsey Sentence” In American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge, 2008. Page 645
“Metaphysics” In American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pages 503-506
“Inference” In American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pages 394-395
“Logic: Deduction” In American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pages 471-472
“Epistemology” In American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia. Eds. John Lachs and Robert Talisse. New York: Routledge, 2008. Pages 239-242
“Readers vs. Breeders” The Pantaneto Forum October 2007 (on-line journal;
“Taking Compromise Seriously” In Spiritual and Political Dimensions of Nonviolence and Peace. Eds. David Boersema and Katy Gray Brown. New York: Rodopi, 2006. Pages 161-167
“Moral Explanation” Bridges 13 (2006): 1-29
“Eco on Names and Reference” Contemporary Pragmatism 2.


Andrew Dawes


Ramona Ilea - Website

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Research Interests

There is a common conception that philosophy is interesting and deep, but it does not make much of a difference in the real world. This is in part because in the 20th century, philosophers in the Anglo-American, or the analytic, tradition aspired to the objectivity of the sciences; and this aspiration led philosophers to think that they needed to be neutral on controversial social/political issues. My work fits within a growing movement to reverse this trend. I argue that it is possible for philosophical work to contribute to public debates and social issues in ways that do not undermine our roles as philosophers. Furthermore, I aim to show philosophers interested in doing publicly engaged philosophy how to do so in a responsible and effective manner by articulating the methodologies implicit in the work of exemplary engaged philosophers. Through systematic and rigorous thinking about our distinctive roles, skills, and knowledge, philosophers will be better able to make valuable contributions to important social issues. Philosophers' engagement in the world, collaboration with others, and the motivation to search more deeply for new and innovative ideas will enrich and further issues of public concern.

My dissertation, "Moral Arguments and Social Change," was an analysis of philosophy's potential for making an impact in the public domain.

My next project, for which I received a Faculty Development Grant, is to edit and publish a book called Philosophy and Activism.

My publications and conference presentations include: “Nussbaum’s Capabilities Approach and Non-Human Animals: Theory and Public Policy,” “The ‘Mutant’ Cure or Social Change? Debating Disability and the X-Men,” "Hume and Singer on Sympathy," "Publicly Engaged Philosophy," “Intensive Livestock Farming: Global Trends, Increased Environmental Concerns, and Ethical Solutions,” "Biotechnologies of Gender: Coercive or Liberatory?" “The New Green: When Pigs Fly … Off Our Plates,” "Gender Identity Disorder: A Disorder?" "Parmenides' Two Routes of Inquiry: Reassembling the Jigsaw Puzzle," and "Women and Art: Embodiment and Self-Representation."


Andrew Dawes


Luke Mossiniac - Website

Assistant Professor, Psychology

I study identity construction processes in social interaction, employing the tools of discursive psychology and narrative analysis. My research consists of two main strands: identity construction for academic success by immigrant students, and the development of gay male identities in intersection with masculinity and ethnic identity development. My research program investigates how identities are potent tools in interactive social action. It strives to shift the concept of identity away from a static interior structure that one has ‘formed’ at a certain stage in one’s life and from which external behaviors manifest to a concept in which we all have multiple, fluid, and exquisitely context-sensitive identities which are continually in the process of construction to serve our social action goals. It is an orientation that assumes the antecedence of identity practices over the sedimentation of the more frequently practiced of these into versions that illusorily appear temporally stable. In this paradigm, identities would be more amenable to adaptive change through re-construction and developmental intervention. An ultimate goal of this research is to shift the dominant discourse of ‘finding oneself’ towards a more constructive discourse of ‘constantly creating adapting selves.’